Ethiopia is a beautiful, land-locked country of 472,000 square miles (slightly less than twice the size of the state of Texas) located in the northeast part of Africa known as the Horn of Africa. Addis Ababa is the capital city. The country terrain consists of mostly high plateau with a central mountain range divided by the Great Rift Valley. The climate can be described as tropical monsoon but varies greatly from region to region. There are two seasons in Ethiopia: in most of the country, the dry season prevails from October until May with short rains in March; the wet season runs from June until the end of September.
There are almost 75 million people living in Ethiopia, most living in the central highlands and is Africa’s second most populous country. According to some official statistics, over 65% of the Ethiopian population live below poverty level. About 80% of the people derive their income from agriculture, but agricultural productivity is significantly low. The country’s per capita income was $550 as of 2014 but Ethiopia is improving! This income cannot begin to meet the cost-of-living needs of a family. To further add to the economic strain, the yearly population growth rate of the country is rapidly increasing. The existing socioeconomic services, although expanding, are unable to reach the majority of people or keep pace with the increase of population. Hence, high mortality, extreme destitution, unemployment, prostitution, life on the streets and a lack of educational opportunities are widespread among the poor. Spiraling inflation is creating food prices that are out of reach for the nation’s poor and recent drought conditions exacerbate the problem.
In addition to these problems, the rapidly expanding pandemic of HIV/AIDS and other communicable diseases are devastating millions, either directly or indirectly. High death rate caused by AIDS, inadequate medical intervention, and unsanitary living conditions have added another layer of stress on the already precarious family institution of the poor. When one parent dies, it becomes increasingly difficult for a single parent to support their family. If something happens to the surviving parent, care of the children would normally go to the extended family. However, with large family sizes and limited resources, well-intentioned relatives are many times simply unable to take on the additional burden.